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The Largest Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima

George Washington's picture




 

The Greatest Single Threat to Humanity: Fuel Pool Number 4

We noted days after the Japanese earthquake that the biggest threat was from the spent fuel rods in the fuel pool at Fukushima unit number 4, and not from the reactors themselves. See this and this.

We noted in February:

Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years.

Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0 or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4.

Tepco is doing some construction at the building … it is a race against time under very difficult circumstances, and hopefully Tepco will win.

As AP points out:

The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster worse than the three reactor meltdowns.

***

Gundersen (who used to build spent fuel pools) explains that there is no protection surrounding the radioactive fuel in the pools. He warns that – if the fuel pools at reactor 4 collapse due to an earthquake – people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside for a while.

The fuel pool number 4 is apparently not in great shape, and there have already been countless earthquakes near the Fukushima region since the 9.0 earthquake last March.

Germany's ZDF tv quotes nuclear engineer Yukitero Naka as saying:

If another earthquake occurs then the building [number 4] could collapse and another chain reaction could very likely occur.

(Unit 4 contains plutonium as well as other radioactive wastes.)

Mainchi reported on Monday:

The storage pool in the No. 4 reactor building has a total of 1,535 fuel rods, or 460 tons of nuclear fuel, in it. The 7-story building itself has suffered great damage, with the storage pool barely intact on the building’s third and fourth floors. The roof has been blown away. If the storage pool breaks and runs dry, the nuclear fuel inside will overheat and explode, causing a massive amount of radioactive substances to spread over a wide area. Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned about this risk.

A report released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident stated that the storage pool of the plant’s No. 4 reactor has clearly been shown to be “the weakest link” in the parallel, chain-reaction crises of the nuclear disaster. The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate.

Former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Sumio Mabuchi, who was appointed to the post of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s advisor on the nuclear disaster immediately after its outbreak, proposed the injection of concrete from below the No. 4 reactor to the bottom of the storage pool, Chernobyl-style.

***

“Because sea water was being pumped into the reactor, the soundness of the structure (concrete corrosion and deterioration) was questionable. There also were doubts about the calculations made on earthquake resistance as well,” said one government source familiar with what took place at the time. “[F]uel rod removal will take three years. Will the structure remain standing for that long?

Asahi noted last month that - if Unit 4 pool gets a crack from an earthquake and leaks, it would be the end for Tokyo.

Kevin Kamps said last month:

Unit 4 storage pool… The entire building is listing including the pool. What they have is steel jacks underneath the pool to try to keep the floor from falling out or the pool from flipping over.

If that cooling water supply is lost, it will be just a few hours at most before that waste is on fire. 135 tons outside of any radioactive containment. They would be direct releases into the environment. 100% of cesium-137 could be released to the environment.

Former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura - whose praises have been sung by Mikhail Gorbachev, U.S. Ambassadors Stephen Bosworth and Glenn Olds, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Goldman Sachs co-chair John C. Whitehead - notes:

The unit suffered enormous damage during the tsunami—a hydrogen explosion blew the roof off, leaving the highly radioactive fuel pool exposed to the open air. If another high level earthquake hits the area, the building will certainly collapse. Japanese and American meteorologists have predicted that such a strong earthquake is indeed likely to hit this year.

The meltdown and unprecedented release of radiation that would ensue is the worst case scenario that then-Prime Minister Kan and other former officials have discussed in the past months. He warned during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos that such an accident would force the evacuation of the 35 million people in Tokyo, close half of Japan and compromise the nation’s sovereignty. Such a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe is unimaginable. Hiroshi Tasaka, a nuclear engineer and special adviser to Prime Minister Kan immediately following the crisis, said the crisis “just opened Pandora’s Box.”

The current Japanese government has not yet mentioned the looming disaster, ostensibly to not incite panic in the public. Nevertheless, action must be taken quickly. This website over the last year has published a running commentary from scientists explaining why Reactor 4 must be stabilized immediately, who might be able to accomplish such a task, and why the situation has largely gone unnoticed. We believe an independent, international team of structural engineers and other advisers must be assembled and deployed immediately. Mounting public pressure would force the Japanese government to take action. We hope these resources are helpful in educating the public about the crisis that we face.

As the eminent German physicist Dr. Hans-Peter Durr said ten months ago, if the spent fuel pool spills, we will be in a situation where science never imagined we could be.

Matsumura was told that if the fuel pool at unit 4 collapses or the water spills out, so much radiation will spew out for 50 years that no one will be able to approach Fukushima:

Even more dramatically, Matsumura writes:

Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).

I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.

I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez [updated 4/5/12]:

In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known. It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity. The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.

The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors. Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel appear to be unscathed.

Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).

It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.

There was a Nuclear Security Summit Conference in Seoul on March 26 and 27, and Ambassador Murata and I made a concerted effort to find someone to inform the participants from 54 nations of the potential global catastrophe of reactor unit 4. We asked several participants to share the idea of an Independent Assessment team comprised of a broad group of international experts to deal with this urgent issue.

I would like to introduce Ambassador Murata’s letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to convey this urgent message and also his letter to Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for Japanese readers. He emphasized in the statement that we should bring human wisdom to tackle this unprecedented challenge.

Ambassador Murata’s letter says:

It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor. This is confirmed by most reliable experts like Dr. Arnie Gundersen or Dr. Fumiaki Koide.

Anti-nuclear physician Dr. Helen Caldicott says that if fuel pool 4 collapses, she will evacuate her family from Boston and move them to the Southern Hemisphere. This is an especially dramatic statement given that the West Coast is much more directly in the path of Fukushima radiation than the East Coast.

Will humanity rise to the occasion, and figure out how to stabilize fuel pool number 4 before catastrophe strikes?

Or will modern civilization win a Darwin award for failing to pay attention to the real threats?

 

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Sun, 04/08/2012 - 04:22 | 2325782 blindman
blindman's picture

did someone say confiscation?
Thursday April 5 12:00pm
http://archive.wbai.org/
Why we should be concerned about the increasing the power of the Presidency. Guest: author Brandon Turbeville.
.
you see we have let the one sick and
diseased monkey spoil the show. we have broken
the cardinal rule, the universally accepted truth
and guiding principle "one monkey don't spoil the show"
destroy the entire program. we deserve our fate if we refuse
to intercede. after all, it is just one monkey.
one monkey. one monkey /////........
ps. the monkey in this case is not a person but an idea
held to be paramount by a number of persons who think at the
level, or with the capacity of, .... monkeys. no?

Sun, 04/08/2012 - 01:01 | 2325618 Aquarius
Aquarius's picture

Rachel Maddow and the bad news for Japan / Fukishima,

and,

the REALLY bad news for the USA

You Americans are toast - literally

Just Wow!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/46981461#46981461

Sun, 04/08/2012 - 00:04 | 2325549 Aquarius
Aquarius's picture

When killing the World is far preferred to "could cause social unrest and increase popular anxiety. "

http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2012/3/18/a-revolt-the-quiet-japanese-way.html

It is time for the people of this World to stop cowering and believing the spin meisters

and

start standing up and beginning to be skeptical - as you all are being led to slaughter in order to er, save 'their' face.

http://verbewarp.blogspot.se/2011/01/dumping-garbage.html

Tell it how it is, that is, we are in  Global Leadership Crisis where

as Einstein said, this mess cannot be fixed by the morons and incompetants who

hold themselves as our "Leadership" which includes, politicians, bankers, bureaucrats and Corporate executives:

I paraphrase without apology.

The whole planet is now a crime scene. http://tinyurl.com/cb5dvpp

Positions Vacant

Leadership Required

Credentials:

| Courage | Honour | Integrity |

| Ethics | Morality | Intellect | Dedication | Loyalty | Compassion |

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 23:45 | 2325520 blindman
blindman's picture

Tony Criss singing I'm Gonna Leave This Town
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdkmK4X-qR4
.
Rainmakers - One more summer (110329, Oslo)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTCUD7SDYpE
.
one more time, one more summer.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 23:10 | 2325470 blindman
blindman's picture

so in the bbc special on fukushima the comment was
made that the electronic controls of the systems
were located in the basement of the plant which were
flooded and inoperative due to water damage as these
controls were in no way water proof, as it were.
it was mentioned in passing so i'm not sure if this
would be a design flaw or if this is standard specification
for a nuclear power plant on a fault line on the shore
where tsunamis are expected?

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 22:22 | 2325427 blindman
blindman's picture

NEVILLE BROTHERS (Ohne Filter Extra 1987) Fear, Hate, Envy, Jealousy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itBBHYlxHdU
.
waiting for resurrection.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:38 | 2325379 Whoa Dammit
Whoa Dammit's picture

Meanwhile closer to home, Duke Power has had 2 reactors at 2 different plants go down in 1 week. The Catawaba plant, 18 miles south of Charlotte, has a reactor down because it lost off site power for an unknown reason. The Oconee plant, about 50 miles notheast of all those golfers at the Masters, has a reactor down because of a water leak.

We are just one deferred maintenance / aging equipment / Homer Simpson employee  away from a catastropic failure in our own backyard. But nobody wants to see that either..

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:43 | 2325382 Aquarius
Aquarius's picture

All out looking to do another MF Global?

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:35 | 2325374 blindman
blindman's picture

05 April 2012
Unfulfilled Dreams: A Tension At the Heart of the Universe
http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2012/04/tension-at-heart-of-uni...
.
another one for easter concerning the heart.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:47 | 2325386 Aquarius
Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:53 | 2325395 blindman
blindman's picture

apologies and thank you! and jesse and of course
dr. king and our zero host.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 20:52 | 2325322 BidnessMan
BidnessMan's picture

Maybe the Mayans were right.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 20:22 | 2325289 gnomon
gnomon's picture

The cockroaches shall inherit the Earth.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 20:52 | 2325324 blindman
blindman's picture

Neville Brothers - Amazing Grace / Down By the Riverside / Amen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa3PBD58k6M
.
for easter.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 20:23 | 2325281 carlnpa
carlnpa's picture

Reptil and Steve in va made some good comments.

I will add one DRY CASK ALL US SPENT MATERIAL NOW.

I work with stuff this big thats actually "hot" like 100's of tons of molten steel, or hot rocks in cement manufacturing.

Stuff goes bad on the fukishima scale occasionally, it's dealt with.  The process goes on.

What the hell are the Japanese, Tepco, US Gov't , doing? What are they delaying for?

It stinks, its fishy, every conspiracy bone in my body is going off. 

A plutonium release on this scale, as burning material, will be an epic life changing environmental disaster in the northern hemisphere.

Why have the Japanese people not demanded that the resources be thrown at this on the scale the Soviets did with Chernobyl?

Is saving face more important than saving your child?  F them and thiers for not having the balls to demand this problem be taken seriously.

In the US we must demand all the pooled spent material be repacked in dry casks immediately.  The Germans dry cask now.  It was mentioned in the article" it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks"

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 19:27 | 2325229 RECISION
RECISION's picture

And the question that no one ask's at all is:

what do you do with 35+ million people if they have to be evacuated?

I am guessing you move them to the South Island of New Zealand and resettle them there in a new "Homeland".

http://recision.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/evacuating-japan/

 

 

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:26 | 2325360 carlnpa
carlnpa's picture

If those 35 million have been contaminated with ingested or inhaled plutonium (think burning), no need to worry about evacuation.  Those exposed will be dead, maybe not immediately, maybe over decades, but the cause of death will be plutonium exposure.  Good genes and it may no affect you at all.

Plutonium is really bad stuff, very toxic.  The Mox mix used in No.4 fukishima is very high in plutonium.

 

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:35 | 2325376 RECISION
RECISION's picture

It would only be the young that get evacuated.

The old would have to stay, work and die in order to give their children a chance to escape.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 19:15 | 2325210 tlnzz
tlnzz's picture

 It's a little curious that the potential gravity of this crisis is dealt with by some in a lighthearted way. But that's just human nature. Is that like kicking the can down the road until you run out of road ?

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 19:14 | 2325209 4Yahshua
4Yahshua's picture

4~7~5993 Happy Sabbath, Feast of Weeks, Resurrection Day!

Sadly, it seems that in a very real way TSHHTF! San Onofre has been shut down here on The West Coast because of worn out parts. We take Vitamin C, D3, mega doses and Boron to fight the radiation from Japan. I continue to use topical iodine as I did before for a low thyroid condition. On abdomine 2X a day. It's cheap and fights radiation. We also believe in the Father and Son (Yahweh and Yahshua) and hopefully are sealed with Their Names, Revelation 14:1. You can pray to the Father NOW asking to believe on His Son Yahshua. That's all that you have to do! Now you will have peace, and protection later on! Other nuclear "events" are just around the corner! May you survive it all is my prayer! HalleluYah! (Praise ye Yah!) Shalom!

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 18:40 | 2325154 TSA gropee
TSA gropee's picture

Hey, our wonderful EPA will have our backs like they did last year and will probably raise the allowable rad limits (Protective Action Guides-USA)again...

http://www.naturalnews.com/031963_radiation_exposure.html

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/when-all-else-fails-change-rules-japan-...

 

If you haven't already, now might be a good time to acquire a geiger counter while demand and prices are low. I use an Images Scientific.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 23:27 | 2325492 Transformer
Transformer's picture

I got one, a Monitor 4EC.  I have not found any measurable radiation.  Is that because this unit isn't very good?

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 18:26 | 2325132 WezTheJuic
WezTheJuic's picture

Hmmm,

Bottom Line: THIS IS A REALITY. 

While at the same time, the cover-ups continue.  Unfortunately what you are seeing Is an end result.  This is a reality that can be applied to every aspect within our daily lives.

Thank-you for the article.  Thank-you for sharing.

Cheers,

Pens,

Sun, 04/08/2012 - 00:12 | 2325084 Aquarius
Aquarius's picture

 

No apology for the double post: this is a rather important issue: It is time for "leadership" to head for their underground bunkers - for the sake of continuing political stability, of course.

History is defined as the continuing incompetences of male "leadership" followed by women bearing buckets - cleaning up the mess.

Latest News from Fukishima: It get far worse and NOBODY knows, and I doubt if any of those responsible even care!

http://enenews.com Energy News

http://enenews.com/nuclear-expert-fukushima-spent-fuel-85-times-cesium-released-chernobyl-destroy-world-environment-civilization-issue-human-survival-former-adviser

Nuclear Expert: Fukushima spent fuel has 85 times more cesium than released at Chernobyl — “It would destroy the world environment and our civilization… an issue of human survival” -Former UN adviser

Former UN adviser: If No. 4 pool collapses I’ve been told “during 50 years continual, you cannot contain” (VIDEO)

Report from Japan: Fukushima doctors can’t express anxieties about radiation or say things that are against what medical leaders decide to make public (AUDIO)

Nuclear Expert: Fukushima citizens urged to make reports of deformities or still births — “I don’t believe the Japanese gov’t wants that info out there” (AUDIO)

 

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 17:39 | 2325058 El Gordo
El Gordo's picture

Well, our government has to establish its priorities.  Now seriously, you can't pre-empt a Presidential attack on the members of Agusta Golf Club for not admitting women golfers when all you have to take it's place is a pending nuclear calamity.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 17:07 | 2325028 DutchR
DutchR's picture

Inside the spend fuel pool, reactor 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=thDAAxLDB8M

And yes the radiation levels are low enough to send in carbon workers.

But if another big quake happens all bets are OFF.......

 

 

via. http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/search/label/Reactor%20No.4

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 17:02 | 2325022 tlnzz
tlnzz's picture

So, if this comes to pass, Humans, to our Earth, will have become like cancer in a body. Killing off its host and then itself dying. I wondered how it will all end.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 17:02 | 2325013 tlnzz
tlnzz's picture

Dupe, sorry.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 17:19 | 2324993 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

After reading this, I'm asking myself why I shouldn't start drinking now.

The die has been cast, and I just don't see much reason to think that SFP4 will be dealt with before another earthquake takes it down once and for all. Sitting here in Oregon, that pool looks like the Sword of Damocles, although I think the effects would certainly impact much of the Northern Hemisphere. Still, we'd get a front row seat to TEOTWAWKI.

Maybe if Japan invited nuclear engineers and major construction specialists instead of social media bloggers, I'd have more confidence they are serious about actually solving the technical challenges. Instead, they seem to think that they can PR their way out of this dilemma.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:30 | 2678548 monad
monad's picture

Your enemies don't want you to have courage.

 

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 16:08 | 2324950 Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

Tokyo would already have been evacuated had it not been for the fact that the elite are concerned with a worldwide financal meltdown being precipitated rather than a nuclear calamity.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 14:12 | 2324754 Westcoastliberal
Westcoastliberal's picture

Thank you, as always, GW for pointing to the facts.  Why do I have the feeling this will NOT end well?  Forrest Gump said it best "Stupid is as stupid does".

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 14:11 | 2324751 pitz
pitz's picture

The big question is whether or not the SUKI (tm) RELIGION will survive intact.  Membership recruiting numbers are down.  Many members died in the tsunami.  The religion, The New World Religion (tm), which reached almost 3 million members recently, hahs been dealt a major setback. 

However, if Fukushima burns down, maybe there won't be a new world, hence, no need for SUKI (tm), The New World Religion (tm).  Good thing that SUKI (tm) has been aggressively attempting to diversify its membership outside Japan.  SUKI (tm), The New World Religion (tm) -- motherfucking religion!

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 14:03 | 2324737 Benjamin Glutton
Benjamin Glutton's picture

I hope Japan holds off on restarting other reactors around the country until they finish fuel removal at Fukushima. It's a tough deal but certainly the right thing to do.

 

Focus.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 14:03 | 2324729 SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

"the seas and oceans in both the Northern and Souther Hemispheres are full of radiation - don't eat seafoood -"

I would suggest buying your seafood from the Atlantic ocean, and getting a reverse osmosis water filter, although I realize it may not be enough:

http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water-education/water-contaminants-heal...

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 21:39 | 2325380 Aquarius
Aquarius's picture

The Radiation is in the Great Global Ocean Conveyor: it's just a matter of time.

I just wonder what the Japanese Tepco executive, the Japanese government, and bureaucracy is expecting to eat now as the Japanese diet is still traditionally and culturally seafood - up until that time they die their early deaths, full of cancers.

Dr. Caldicott the Australia Doctor who also happens to be one of the World's experts in Nuclear Radiation - Australian born) has been on this matter since the beginning giving talks and intereviews, and warning of the dangers but to little or no avail.

And still those of the cult of Hanlon's Razor do nothing. They just don't have the competence but need to preside over their failures and genocide.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 13:37 | 2324673 hooligan2009
hooligan2009's picture

It's ok, Ben will just add the radioactive fuel to his other pool of toxic assets via a liquidity injection of QE13 and get the taxpayer to pay for it.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 13:17 | 2324631 Escapeclaws
Escapeclaws's picture

If this can happen to Fukashima, it can happen anywhere.  How many nuclear reactors are there? And the feckless Obama is willing to allow Netanyahu to risk WWIII? If GW is correct, this represents more of a threat than the nuclear bombs themselves, especially since the reactors would become targets. Presumably, bombing the Iran nuclear facilities could render that country uninhabitable. Truely diabolical.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 16:36 | 2324989 Errol
Errol's picture

Dmitry Orlov has presciently suggested that the inexorable decline of easily-recovered fossil fuels will result in societies being unable to muster the resources to properly decommission the current inventory of nuclear power plants and their waste pools.  Consequently, he has proposed a contest for artists to design appropriately horrifying and durable monuments to place at each of these facilities while we can, to warn illiterate humans thousands of years from now from trying to salvage materials from these sites.

Of course, not one psychopathic "leader" in a thousand could even understand what the hell he is talking about...

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 14:12 | 2324755 pitz
pitz's picture

US reactors are far worse than Fuckushima in terms of spent fuel storage. 

Sun, 04/08/2012 - 00:07 | 2325554 GoinFawr
GoinFawr's picture

fewer of them are upwind though, and to my knowledge most of them still have their roofs on and coolant systems intact. 

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 13:13 | 2324623 Marginal Call
Marginal Call's picture

Sounds like they are trying to buy time to work on the reactor below and hoping there's no earthquake at the expense of supporting the pool.  Because they can start pumping concrete into the building and bring a solid surface up to support the bottom of the pool at any time.   Supporting to pool is not an issue if you're willing to sacrifice everything below it.

 

Another option would be to build walls around the entire exterior of the building with precast concrete panels and flood the facility.  And then remove the fuel rods. 

 

The situation doesn't sound like they've reached pure desperation yet or they would be taking extreme measures.  Either that, or the Japanese just ain't that smart.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 13:13 | 2324620 Escapeclaws
Escapeclaws's picture

Obviously, the only solution is to take away the civil rights of Japanese citizens.

/sarc

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 12:58 | 2324590 JustACitizen
JustACitizen's picture

Do you know what I love about this article and the various comments?

It is absence.

As in the absence of all of the so-called-defenders of "free market capitalism".

As in the absence of all of those that say "government cannot do anything right".

The purists of what passes for intellect these days. (You're either for us or a'gin us!) It's black or white; yes or no; 0 or 1.

Lest we all forget - it was a private corporation that designed this mess, a private corporation that operated this mess that and a captured government regulatory administration that did not regulate. The profits were private and the costs/losses are public - not to mention things like people's lives - perhaps all of ours.

With disaster (for all of us) looming on the horizon - the response just beggars belief.

But, while I am no fan of our waaaay too intrusive government - and the scumbags that live off of it - and the continual heist that pays for it (plus extensive indebtedness) at least I know that there is no private entity that will fix this.

So, the point of this post is - at times we do need government to take a role for which there can be no profit incentive and there is no alternative. Hope is not a strategy - but let us hope that the various governments find an answer.

Purists take note.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 15:08 | 2324850 Inspector Bird
Inspector Bird's picture

Actually, you're missing a very large point.

While a private corporation built and managed the plant, it had to adhere to desperately poor minimum requirements which were set by government.  So, in a sense, you cannot simply say this is a failure of corporations, and you can definitely say government doesn't do anything right.  Because, as in all other activities where we see the government hand, it fails miserably. 

Defenders of the faith from the Left will claim "but it fails because private corporations pay it off".  Perhaps, but probably not.  More likely, as one other person noted here, in a pure market nuclear energy would never exist.  After all, it exists today entirely because of government development, funding, and subsidy.  The Manhattan Project and its government spin off projects which still exist today, Soviet Nuclear Reactors, French reactors - these are the majority of nuclear energy outlets in the world, all funded, started, designed, or in some way related to government intervention.

The government cannot do anything right, and while I agree that a private entity alone will never "save" us, it's also likely a private entity wouldn't have created the problem we need saving from to begin with.

One of the few things the government has ever done "right" is the setting aside of land for preservation.  But even that has gotten completely screwed up because while in theory it was a great idea - it left the land open for abuse by future politicians who, like anyone else, are looking to make a buck somehow.  Government fails not because it is a poorly designed system.  It fails because there is never an incentive for the politicians to do the right thing, let alone the necessary thing.

Thu, 05/24/2012 - 11:55 | 2459070 Sanksion
Sanksion's picture

There are some full private nuclear reactors. But there are small compared to the public supported ones.

 

I wonder about insurance fees that sould cost to a producer of nuclear energy if it wasn't (un)insured by governments. Would this source of energy still be competitive ?

Anyway, the civilisation with the more energy available prevail. The supply of nuclear energy gives a surplus, and lead enventually to superiority.

Hence, if we dismiss the world government fantasy, there is nothing we can do to prevent the verge of nuclear energy. As all sources are good in the game of thrones.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 23:32 | 2325497 sleepingbeauty
sleepingbeauty's picture

Except for the fact that corporations do not worry about the long term. They make their decisions on a 2-5 year timeline and then sell to investors a longer term solution based on hopium. The odds on a nuclear reactor having a problem during the current board of directors reign is low. And frankly that is all they care about. The investor in the company has taken the risk and the directors and top dogs walk away with huge money until the wrong number comes up. Then the sitting ceo and directors blame everyone else and take their golden parachutes and live out their lives far from the problems they were instrumental in creating.

Sat, 04/07/2012 - 16:42 | 2324996 JustACitizen
JustACitizen's picture

So, you do not think that the companies lobbying for "extended lifetimes" for these plants had anything to do with their extended lives?

You do not think that widespread private payoffs throughout the "free market system result in poor regulation/artificial monopolies/barriers to trade/etc? I wonder how much payola the average Nigerian is receiving from Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil? It is their oil after all...

I suppose you think all of the recently organized "Super Pacs" are all about altruism huh? Koch brothers are leading a crusade because they are loyal and patriotic Americans right? George Soros is just a swell guy that cares about the downtrodden right?

Government fails because people are imperfect.

Corporations fail because people are imperfect.

Idealistic economic systems (socialism/communism/capitalism) fail because people are imperfect.

Capitalism may be the best system for creating wealth and distributing goods - but it has a dark side and it needs well thought out regulation. (paraphrasing that well known communist one Adam Smith.)

The point that I was getting at in the original post was that the world is a complicated place and there is no easy answers. True believers are foolish.

For the down arrow guys and some of the posters - thank you - you make my point better than I could make it.

 

Thu, 05/24/2012 - 12:06 | 2459113 Sanksion
Sanksion's picture

And who has the pretense of knowledge to edict that the survival of humanity will be ensured with or without a given source of energy ?

 

Regulations are as imperfect as the rest : it is not magical. Don't tell me the american, japanese, russian, and french nuclear industries don't have tons of paper crap named 'regulations' - a weak protection against mistakes.

Sun, 04/08/2012 - 00:10 | 2325548 GoinFawr
GoinFawr's picture

Libertarians for the further deregulation of the banks! Down with the EPA-dilution is the solution!

You, sir, are a breath of fresh air in this echo chamber. Keep posting.

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